Monday, November 18, 2013

LCS: Trying to Beat the Clock

Alternate headline: "LCS: Trying to Beat the Horse Deader

As the wolves on The Hill start to circle the wobbly and bleeding LCS program, a few news items coming out Friday didn't help things much.

First, as it should be in a moment of budgetary crisis, there is cost. You know - how affordable the program is. As my FORTRAN professor told me a back in the '80s, "Son, if your code is stupid, your results are stupid, and your grade will reflect same."

Via AviationLeak;
“In response to a recommendation in our July 2013 report, DOD now plans to do an independent cost estimate for the program before its next seaframe contract award in 2016,” GAO says in a recent for-official-use-only report, “Littoral Combat Ships, Navy Needs to Address Communication System Limitations and Obtain Additional Operational and Cost Data,” obtained by AWIN.

Such an estimate is important, GAO says. “If the Navy follows the LCS Plan of Action and Milestones, it may contract for the entire fleet of . . . LCS ships before actual operational information is obtained for both variants.”
The GAO notes: “The Navy plans to finalize its request for proposals for up to 28 additional LCS ships in late 2014, before it incorporates lessons learned from the USS Freedom deployment into the LCS CONOPS (concept of operations) or gains similar operational data for the Independence variant.”
Well, lookie there. What is that, classic Front Porch mantra circa, say .... 2005/6? Welcome to the party, ya'll.

Funny how it reads like a crisis. 2016 is over two years from now. You know, the distance from Pearl Harbor to the point where we've taken North Africa, Sicily, and were working our way up the boot of Italy.

Take your time folks. Get out the abacus and tell us what you think.

Seriously, that is one of the original sins of LCS; too much technology and concept risk in one package - all based on hope, wishes, and will. That has never been enough - but we tried anyway. 

So, all the cost numbers people have been throwing back at us (being that they really have no operational capability to brag about);
Part of the problems, GAO says, may be in the way the Navy calculated its initial cost estimates.
“In lieu of actual LCS data, the Navy used operations and support data from other surface ships, such as frigates, that were modified to approximate LCS characteristics to build the LCS cost estimate (referred to as modified analogous data),” GAO says. “For example, cost estimators used modified frigate data to estimate sustaining support costs such as munitions handling, and to estimate non-maintenance supplies and equipment costs. Maintenance estimates were calculated by modifying analogous data from frigates and destroyers, among other ships, even though their maintenance concepts differ from those of the LCS.”

Navy officials say that until they have actual operational data on both LCS seaframes, it is unknown whether the modified analogous cost data will reasonably correspond to actual LCS costs, according to GAO.
LCS: we don't know what it can do, how much it will cost, or if it can even fight ... buy by golly we want over 50 of them.

Oh, wait .... did someone send the N6 shop an email? What is that other transformationalist talking point? Celestial Networks, battle networks, networked networks, two turntables and a microphone, and such?
“LCS relies on the Navy Information Application Product Suite system to transmit data, using bandwidth capacity to do so, as do many of the distance support functions,” the report says. “One internal Navy report found that problems with the system led to sensor data not leaving the ships for months, among other connectivity issues.”

The Navy internal report’s finding that “the LCS concept depends on distance support of ships, but the [information technology] pipes to make it happen aren’t reliable yet” led to a recommendation to “accelerate implementation of the condition-based maintenance program,” GAO says.
I really get tired of saying "I told you so."

The bandwidth ... the EMCON issues ... etc ... etc .... yep.
The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) fleet has some communication problems that need to be addressed to enable the vessels to operate as planned, a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says, and Navy officials say they are assessing the problems and GAO recommendations.
“LCS depends on operational and maintenance support from the shore more than other Navy ships, so reliability and adequacy of communication systems, and the bandwidth required to transmit information, are critical to effective operations and sustainment,” GAO notes.
the LCS’s ability to share critical information with shore support facilities will likely be limited if these issues re not adequately addressed, which could reduce the LCS’s operational availability.”

Sensors installed on the ship relay data several times a day to shore-based personnel, who analyze it to identify any deficiencies in the equipment and plan for required maintenance.
Most of the anti-LCS gaggle, your humble blogg'r included, threw in the towel at the turn of the decade and resigned our Fleet to its fate and hoped that smart people working hard would find some way to make the best of this ship inside its spoken and unspoken limitations, but really.

Here we are. Don't even think about bring up FFG-7 and SPRUCAN comparisons. Don't even go with TICO-Actual's experience; we are way beyond that. We've debunked them earlier anyway.

I don't know about you folks ... but, ummmm, yea. Someone throw some pixie dust around.

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